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WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic diocese in New Jersey is canceling a talk offered by Fr. James Martin, S.J., best known for his attempts to normalize homosexuality.
The celebrity Jesuit had been scheduled to offer a Lenten reflection on February 15, at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in the diocese of Metuchen. The diocese announced Martin's speaking engagement this month in its newspaper, The Catholic Spirit. The communications director for the diocese of Metuchen, Erin Friedlander, confirmed with Church Militant on Friday that the parish "is no longer hosting the planned talk."
According to the inside source, the invitation had originated in the deanery, but was rescinded after the parish priest, Fr. Leonard Rusay, encountered backlash. According to the woman in the deanery, the source told Church Militant, "the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes said, 'I've gotten too many protests. I'm not going to do it this year.'"
"I don't want them to protest, so I am rescinding the invitation," the source continued, explaining that organizers then asked various parishes in the area to host Martin, which declined the offer.
"A catering hall has agreed to host," the source confirmed.
The woman who reported this to me, the woman who was talking about this is on the deanery — and she used such incendiary language about the people who had objected to Fr. James. She used words like "feared" and "threatened," and she made it sound like it was to be violent. ... I questioned her pretty closely ... because I didn't like her language, so I wanted to know for myself: Is there someone on my side threatening this guy, or threatening the church? Let's find out about that — and in fact, there was no basis for her to say that. She was just being provocative ... . To my knowledge there were no threats of violence; just protesting.
Despite protests, Martin promoted his book, Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, last July at another N.J. parish, Church of the Sacred Heart. This event came only months after Cdl. Joseph Tobin hosted an LGBT pilgrimage at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. Tobin was among the handful of prelates who endorsed Martin's book: "Fr. Martin's brave, prophetic and inspiring new book marks an essential step in inviting church leaders to minister with more compassion and in reminding LGBT Catholics that they are as much a part of our church as any other Catholic."